Master List of Ingredient Substitutions

Master List of Ingredient Substitutions

It’s never fun to start making a recipe and realize that you’re missing one thing. Here is my master list of ingredient substitutions! Using swaps in a recipe makes it easier to use what you have on hand and reduce food waste. If you have any questions about a specific substitution, leave me a comment below!

Flour, sugars, and maple syrup in glass bowls with text overlay


  • Milk: Sub heavy cream or half-and-half thinned out with some water. Evaporated milk, low-fat coconut milk, or milk alternatives (such as nut or soy milk).
  • Half-and-Half: Half-and-Half is just half cream and half milk. So if you have both, you can do just that! Or you can thin some heavy cream with a little water.
  • Heavy Cream: Combine milk and melted butter. For 1 cup heavy cream, use 3/4 cup milk plus 1/4 cup melted butter. You can also use coconut milk (but be aware of the extra sweetness and mild coconut flavor). Note, you cannot use heavy cream substitutes to make whipped cream.
  • Buttermilk: I use this substitute all the time. For 1 cup of buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar to a measuring cup and add enough milk to reach the 1 cup line. Allow to sit for a few minutes to ‘sour’.
  • Creamy Dairy Products: Greek yogurt, sour cream, mascarpone, quark, creme fraiche, and Crema. These can all be used interchangeably. 


  • Neutral Oils with a high smoke point: Canola oil, corn oil, coconut oil, peanut oil, grapeseed oil, vegetable oil. Ghee is not considered an oil but a solid fat, but it has a very high smoke point.
  • Flavored oils with a medium smoke point: Avocado oil, nut oils, olive oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil.
  • Solid fats with a low smoke point: Bacon fat, butter, lard, margarine, vegetable shortening. 

Broth or Stock:

If a recipe only calls for a little broth or stock, you can use water. But, if the recipe needs a lot of stock or broth then you’ll want more flavor than just water. Depending on the flavor of the dish, you can add beer, wine, melted butter, milk, soy sauce, or miso paste in addition to the water.


Although vegetables all have different tastes so you’ll want to use your best judgment when swapping. One thing to keep in mind is the difference in cook times for vegetables. 

  • Quick-Cooking Vegetables: Asparagus, Cabbage, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, fennel, mushrooms, peas, peppers, zucchini.
  • Firm Vegetables: Root vegetables such as beet, carrot, celery root, parsnip, potato, turnip. Winter squash such as butternut squash, delicate squash, and pumpkin.
  • Onions: Red, White, or Yellow. Scallions, shallots, and spring onions. 


  • When substituting dried herbs for fresh and vice versa, keep in mind that the potency varies. 
  • 1 teaspoon dried = 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs 


Spices make cooking fun! Experiment with combinations and substitutions. Generally, spices can be grouped into flavor profiles.

  • Warm: Cinnamon, dried Chile, chili powder, cloves, cumin, nutmeg, and paprika
  • Earthy: Curry powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and turmeric
  • Peppery: Allspice, ground ginger, peppercorns, mustard powder, sumac
  • Floral: Cardamom, coriander, fennel, nutmeg, saffron, and star anise.


  • Brown Sugar: 1 cup brown sugar = 1 cup white granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon molasses
  • Baking Powder: 1 teaspoon baking powder = 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Baking Soda: 1/4 teaspoon baking soda = 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Butter: 1/2 cup butter = 1/2 cup coconut oil, margarine, or lard
  • Cake Flour: 1 cup cake flour = 2 tablespoons corn starch and enough all-purpose flour to make 1 cup
  • Powdered Sugar: Grind white granulated sugar in a blender until fine.
  • Vanilla Extract: Equal amount of good maple syrup. Half the amount of almond extract. Depending on the recipe, you can add a pinch of espresso powder or instant coffee, cinnamon, nutmeg, or some citrus zest to add flavor.

Do you have any favorite ingredient substitutions that I’m missing? Let me know in the comments!

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